Regardless of how they may have fared in the casinos, the buildings professionals from around the country who attended HPAC Engineering's fourth annual Engineering Green Buildings (EGB) Conference and Expo last month left Las Vegas winners.

Held Sept. 17 and 18 at Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, the event featured 23 one- and two-hour technical sessions focused on hospitality, education, and government buildings and provided training on various green topics, including energy efficiency, water conservation, indoor environmental quality, and sustainability.

“After the substantial growth we experienced at this year's Engineering Green Buildings Conference (30-percent increase in attendance), I am convinced more than ever that there is a strong need for the type of information we provided for the mechanical-system engineering and design community and for building owners and managers,” Jeff Ferenc, HPAC Engineering editor in chief and conference manager, said. “The positive comments from both attendees and speakers we received after the show only reinforce my opinion.”

One attendee, Stanley Fox, PE, president and chief executive officer of Saguaro Engineers Inc. in Phoenix, said, “(I decided to attend the EGB Conference) to see what the latest buzz is in the engineering community. This is one of the best conferences that I have attended. It provided good exposure to relevant issues in our HVAC community.”

Sessions included:

  • “The Present and Future of Green Technology,” presented by HPAC Engineering Editorial Advisory Board member Ben Erpelding, PE, CEM, the director of engineering for Optimum Energy in Seattle.

  • “The Price of Going Green: How to Make It Cost-Effective,” presented by Peter C. D'Antonio, PE, CEM, LEED AP, the founder and president of PCD Engineering Services Inc. in Longmont, Colo.

  • “Maximizing Variable-Air-Volume Technology,” presented by Mark S. Lentz, PE, the president of Lentz Engineering Associates Inc. in Sheboygan Falls, Wis., and Larry Spielvogel, PE, a consulting engineer from King of Prussia, Pa.

  • “Techniques for Simulating Building Energy Performance,” presented by Gail Stranske, PE, LEED AP, the director of energy and simulation services for CTG Energetics Inc. in Irvine, Calif.

“What impressed me most about this conference was the emphasis on the need to focus on ‘process’ issues to succeed in achieving really efficient systems and buildings,” Thomas Hartman, PE, principal of The Hartman Co. and longtime member of HPAC Engineering's Editorial Advisory Board, who delivered one of two keynote addresses at the conference, said. “I believe the level of technologies available to our industry have completely overrun the processes we use to design, construct, and operate buildings to support them. So, rather than focus on technologies at this time, we need to focus on improving the processes we employ to support newer technologies in our work. I thought the EGB Conference was perhaps the first I have attended that seemed to leave participants with this message.”

In his keynote address, Hartman challenged the buildings community, in which he sees a lack of leadership.

“Powerful interests (electric and gas utilities) are betting against our industry's ability to succeed in its quest for a truly sustainable building industry,” Hartman said. “To succeed in moving more effectively toward sustainable buildings that reduce overall energy consumption, engineers need to become leaders and help change this basic economic equation. We must become much more involved in shaping public policy favorable to the new social goal of ultraefficient sustainable buildings. But first we need to work effectively together and with building-design, construction, and operation teams in order to demonstrate to ourselves and society in general that such a goal is attainable — that vastly more-efficient buildings are both straightforward and economical to build, operate, and occupy. That will take a new kind of collaborative leadership from those who really understand how to fit their pieces of newer technologies together with others in order to attain these ambitious goals.”

In his keynote address, Paul von Paumgartten, director of energy and environmental affairs for the building-efficiency business of Johnson Controls, described how the energy-efficiency movement has evolved into an industry, with an emphasis on building performance and a life-cycle approach to sustainability. The demand for green buildings is greater than ever, he said, adding, “This is going to be the decade of implementation.”

In addition to providing “an opportunity for the mechanical-systems-engineering community to learn or refine skills necessary to meet the challenges of green-building best practices and LEED certification,” Ferenc said, a main goal of the conference is “to provide a forum through which suppliers can communicate the benefits of their green mechanical systems, products, components, services, and technology to key design/specifying professionals.”

Some two dozen exhibitors, which included water-conservation, air-movement, energy-efficiency, and infrastructure-software companies, were on hand to offer a review of products and services. (See pages 16 and 17 for a sampling.) Networking opportunities were plentiful in the exhibition hall during session breaks, lunches, and the opening-night welcome reception.

Situated squarely amid the bright lights and entertainment venues of Las Vegas, conference participants were able to enjoy Mandalay Bay's 11-acre beach, 30,000-sq-ft spa, and 41 unique boutiques and restaurants — not to mention its 135,000-sq-ft gaming environment — during their free time.

With such a large turnout for this year's conference, planning for the 2008 EGB Conference and Expo already is under way.

“I am confident that our conference will enjoy continued strong growth in years to come,” Ferenc said. “Be assured that the staff of HPAC Engineering magazine and I certainly are committed to making that happen.”

For continuing updates on the next EGB Conference and Expo, watch the pages of HPAC Engineering, or go to www.egbregistration.com.

Special Thanks

HPAC Engineering wishes to thank the following sponsors and exhibitors for their support of the fourth annual EGB Conference and Expo: AERCO, Air Movement & Control Association International Inc., the Air-Conditioning and Refrigeration Institute, Armstrong Pumps Inc., the Building Commissioning Association, Belimo Aircontrols Inc., Bentley Systems Inc., Carrier Corp., Custom Mechanical Equipment LLC, Conco Systems Inc., Distech Controls, EBM Papst Inc., EnviroTower, the Green Mechanical Council, ITW TACC, Johns Manville, Johnson Controls, Measurement Computing Corp., MKK Consulting Engineers Inc., Multistack LLC, Multizone, Munters, Price Industries, RenewAire LLC, Semco Inc., Sloan Valve Co., Taco Inc., TAS, Trane, Uponor Corp., Vaisala, WaterFurnace International Inc., Wilo USA LLC, and Zurn Plumbing Products.